His certification as an astrologer reads Tatsuhiro Percival Nakajima. Why? The gentle Japanese — still coolly dressed for summer — replies smiling: “Because I am the Fool.”
Not because he is a fool (far from it) but because of the name’s association with the most innocent of the English knights who gathered around King Arthur’s legendary Round Table. Percival was unworldly — so the story goes — because he was raised in secrecy and security by his mother in the deep forests of Wales until his mid-teens.
In tarot, Nakajima explains further, the Fool is every man at the beginning of the journey from birth to death and then rebirth, an empty vessel in search of answers to all life’s universal problems.
Last June, Nakajima returned to Japan after spending three years doing research at the Joseph Campbell Foundation in California. He was there for a total of five years, in fact, but with a break of two years for fieldwork study in between attaining first his Masters and, more recently, his Ph.D.
Now he is picking up his career where he left off, as a professional astrologer. “I have an office in Takadanobaba, sharing a practice with a Jungian psychoanalyst, and an art therapist. They send patients to me, who in turn recommend me to others. I also advertise.”
“I once counseled foreign readers and their friends from all over the world. It was a very exciting time for me.”
Born in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward in 1964, Nakajima thinks he was a pretty normal little boy until around the age of 10. That is when, he says, he began communicating experientially with spirits. “I would wake up very early, feeling incredibly excited, and start hearing voices talking about my life.” They were ecstatic experiences, he recalls — luminous and exciting, but also full of dread, because he could not understand what was happening.
By late junior high school, he had all but dropped out. The stuff teachers were trying to instill just went over his head; he was far more interested in reading about Greek mythology, psychology, art, literature and the occult, meaning simply “hidden things” — things not necessarily understood within a scientific and Western educational framework.”
By self-learning, he went to Waseda University and majored in French philosophy and literature, after which he worked in French, translating and writing brochures and news items.
At the same time, however, he was writing articles for Japanese publishers concerned with psychology and astrology. Eventually this led him to Britain to study at the Centre for Psychological Astrology as well as the Faculty of Astrological Studies in London, which included summer courses at Brasenose College, Oxford.
He chose to study in the U.K. because it is relatively easy to move around. There are courses in the U.S., but the distances are enormous, so, for most, costly and time-consuming. “Those I did in Britain were both extremely professional but highly intellectual, with students from all over the world.”
What he valued most in his studies was the client work, how to relate without losing boundaries, but keeping in touch with the emotions. “This enabled me to identify core issues with clients. There is an art to conversation relating to emotional issues. Basic skills are not enough. I learned how to listen between and behind the words, while holding the power of intensity in the now.”
Some astrologers, he continues, really annoy their clients because they try to control the issue by talking too much. “I’m a quiet astrologer. I blend therapeutic counseling into my readings.”
His very first client even before studying astrology in England was an air stewardess working for Alitalia. “She recommended me to her colleagues, and after that, work just took off. I couldn’t stop.
“At the same time I was encouraged to travel more. Abroad is paradise, with Greece and Italy favorite destinations. Why? Obviously to do with previous lives.”
As he waits for name cards to be printed and begins to develop a new client base, he has been writing, with an article about to appear in the next issue of a magazine published by the Astrological Association in the U.K. “It’s about earthquakes. In looking at the astrological patterning of major quakes in the past, it becomes possible to predict the future.
The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 occurred at the peak of major change and rapid modernization in Japan. It destroyed what was left of Edo in order to allow a further escalation of development.”
Earthquakes allow stress to escape not only geologically, but psychologically. “Right now our collective stress levels are high, but not yet ready to blow up in our faces. A change in the Constitution may alter this situation significantly. Also, there will be total solar eclipses in 2009 and 2012. North Korea will become quite tough around this period.”
Apparently it is highly unusual for two solar eclipses to occur so close together. “There is always a cataclysmic collective change when it happens. The last was before I was born.”
The eclipse of August 1999 had a dramatic effect on Europe and the Middle East, however. “We can look back and see big changes every two or three years; major upheavals.”
Mythology grows out of such events, which is why the subject has always fascinated Nakajima. In going to the Joseph Campbell Foundation near Santa Barbara, he was able to explore what he had experienced so far in a different way.
“I had a vast array of psychotherapeutic skills, and could have continued in that direction. Instead, having given myself the advice of an astrologer, I chose to change the picture and explore myself.
“Mythology is not just about gods and goddesses. It is concerned with the myth of life. It concerns what we choose to do, what we don’t choose to do, the paths we take, and dramas such choices evoke.”
For his dissertation, he chose not to delve into classic texts, but rather get local. “I focused on Okinawa, with its legendary history and shamanic culture, with an approach that was interactive, self-generating, ecological, psychological and sociological.”
It will be available to read online in English in about six months. By which time the stars say he will be quietly back in business.